One of the worst chemical bombings in Syria turned a northern rebel-held area into a toxic kill zone… inciting international outrage over the ever-increasing government impunity shown in the country’s six-year war.
Western leaders including President Trump blamed the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and called on its patrons, Russia and Iran, to prevent a recurrence of what many described as a war crime.
Dozens of people, including children, died — some writhing, choking, gasping or foaming at the mouth — after breathing in poison that possibly contained a nerve agent or other banned chemicals, according to witnesses, doctors and rescue workers. They said the toxic substance spread after warplanes dropped bombs in the early morning hours. Some rescue workers grew ill and collapsed from proximity to the dead.
The opposition-run Health Department in Idlib Province, where the attack took place, said 69 people had died…
In the weeks following the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, evidence contradicting the official story continued to surface.
A year before the Douma false flag, Syrian President Bashar Assad warned that what he called “false flag” incidents and provocations, similar to the one he said took place in the town of Khan Shaykhun, are likely to occur in future to give the US a pretext for an attack.
“We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria,” Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy said at a news briefing in March.
“They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This will be used to blame government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs.”
The Syrian army also discovered where the White Helmets, an al-Qaeda affiliated group funded by George Soros and the British government that claims to be made up of humanitarian workers and has been repeatedly blamed for creating fake propaganda against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have been filming their videos, according to Fars News.
According to the report, the place is located in the small town of Saqba in Eastern Ghouta. The army personnel reportedly also discovered cameras and film production equipment left at the site.
On Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Defense denied reports of an alleged chemical bomb being dropped on Douma, also in Eastern Ghouta, suggesting that a number of Western states as well as NGOs like the White Helmets have turned to such claims, which it called “another fake,” in order to “undermine the achieved ceasefire.”
“We strongly deny these claims and announce our readiness to send Russian experts in radiation, chemical and biological defense to Douma after its liberation from terrorists to gather evidence, which would prove that the allegations of chemical weapons use was staged,” said Major General Yuri Yevtushenko, commander of the Russian Center for Syria Reconciliation.
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons during the war, saying it “doesn’t need such measures to stop the terrorists,” Fars reports.
“The chemical fabrications, which did not serve the terrorists and their sponsors in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, will not serve them today either, as the Syrian state is determined to end terrorism in every square inch of Syrian territory,” reads the Syrian government’s statement on the alleged Douma chemical attack.
Several media outlets have cited militants in Syria accusing the authorities in Damascus of using chemical weapons in Douma, with Jaysh al-Islam claiming that government forces dropped a chemical bomb in Eastern Ghouta.
The week of 30 April 2018, journalists on the ground in Syria recorded interviews with some of the people who were there for the alleged attacks – people who actually appeared in the video that was shared widely by Syrian rebels associated with the White Helmets on April 7th, provoking attacks from the U.S. Military and its allies.
ZeroHedge reported that, “Russian officials brought fifteen people to The Hague from the city of Douma, Syria, said to have been present during the alleged April 7 chemical attack – including 11-year-old Hassan Diab, who was seen in a widely-distributed video taken by the controversial NGO organization known as the “White Helmets,” who filmed themselves giving Diab “emergency treatment” after the alleged incident.
One of the most compelling interviews was with an 11-year-old boy named Hassan Diab who can be clearly matched with one of the victims in the video. Fortunately, the young boy is safe and in good health, and suffered no chemical attack symptoms, but he is surely traumatized and confused by what he experienced.
Hassan told Russian journalist Evgeny Poddubny that he was walking the streets with his mother in search of food, when one of the people that they encountered insisted that they go to the hospital.
“Somebody was shouting that we had to go to the hospital, so we went there. When I came in, some people grabbed me and started pouring water over my head,” Hassan said.
Imagine being a young hungry child walking into a hospital expecting to find some food, only to be grabbed by strangers and soaked with water along with dozens of other children, all the while being surrounded with lights and cameras. The boy was eventually found by his father, who said that he saw no evidence of a chemical attack.
“I didn’t hear anything about the chemical attack, I was outside but didn’t hear anything. I heard that my family was in the hospital. I went to the hospital, walked upstairs, and found my wife and children. I asked them what had happened, and they said people outside were shouting about some smell and told them to go to the hospital. At the hospital, they gave dates and cookies to the kids,” he said.
While it would be possible that a child walking the streets could get mixed up with actual victims in the midst of the chaos that takes place after this type of incident, even the doctors at the hospital that encountered these victims didn’t see evidence of a chemical attack.
One doctor told reporters that they saw victims who were hurt and killed in bombings that were regularly taking place in the city, but no trace of chemical agents.
“People from the White Helmets told us about the use of chemical weapons, but we saw no sign of that. If chemical weapons were used against those people, our medical staff would have also been affected,“ he said.
Others present during the filming of Diab’s hospital “cleanup” by the White Helmets include hospital administrator Ahmad Kashoi, who runs the emergency ward.
“There were people unknown to us who were filming the emergency care, they were filming the chaos taking place inside, and were filming people being doused with water. The instruments they used to douse them with water were originally used to clean the floors actually,” Ahmad Kashoi, an administrator of the emergency ward, recalled. “That happened for about an hour, we provided help to them and sent them home. No one has died. No one suffered from chemical exposure.” –RT
Also speaking at The Hague was Halil al-Jaish, an emergency worker who treated people at the Douma hospital the day of the attack – who said that while some patients did come in for respiratory problems, they were attributed to heavy dust, present in the air after recent airstrikes, but that nobody showed signs of chemical warfare poisoning.
The hospital received people who suffered from smoke and dust asphyxiation on the day of the alleged attack, Muwaffak Nasrim, a paramedic who was working in emergency care, said. The panic seen in footage provided by the White Helmets was caused mainly by people shouting about the alleged use of chemical weapons, Nasrim, who witnessed the chaotic scenes, added. No patients, however, displayed symptoms of chemical weapons exposure, he said. –RT
Emergency paramedic Ahmad Saur who is with the Syrian Red Crescent, said that his hospital ward did not receive any patients exposed to chemical weapons the day of the alleged incident, and that all the patients either needed general medical care or help with injuries.
Two other alleged witnesses say that they were working at the hospital during the time of the attack, and they also did not see evidence of chemical agents.
“We heard an explosion and someone said it was a chemical weapon, we ran to where the noise came from and started pouring water over the people, but they seemed to be ok and then walked away with any help,” one witness said.
“People got so confused, someone started pouring water over peoples heads saying there had been a chemical attack, I was at the spot with my wife and daughter but neither of us experienced any symptoms of chemical poisoning,” another said.
That said, none of these people’s testimony will make it into the “official record” as it currently stands. Russia’s permanent representative to the OPCW, Aleksandr Shulgin, said that the OPCW has already interviewed six alleged Douma witnesses brought to The Hague, and they won’t interview any more.
“The others were ready too, but the experts are sticking to their own guidelines. They’ve picked six people, talked to them, and said they were ‘completely satisfied’ with their account and did not have any further questions” -Aleksandr Shulgin
Ambassador Alexandr Shulgin also said that “certain Western countries” accusing Russia and Syria of trying to “hide” witnesses to the attack is not true.
After the OPCW refused any more than the first 6 testimonies, many of those eyewitnesses told their stories at the press briefing chaired by Russia’s representative to the OPCW, Shulgin. The witnesses were clearly ordinary Syrians: doctors, paramedics and lab workers from Douma’s only hospital, a resident who was in the emergency room at the time, and Hassan Diab, the 11-year-old boy dragged into the White Helmets’ staged incident, and Hassan’s father.
The medical personnel and the town resident all reported that there was no chemical smell and not one person displaying symptoms of a chemical attack, only some people suffering from mild or moderate asphyxiation, caused by smoke and dust. No one was even admitted to the hospital that night; after being treated, all patients were able to be sent home that night. They did report that a group of people stormed into the emergency department shouting “Civil Protection,” “chemical attack,” creating panic and pouring cold water on patients while a few filmed it on their phones.
Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Kirillov, who heads the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Forces, presented footage from apartments into which chemical cylinders had allegedly been dropped from a Syrian government helicopter, showing that the cylinders were undamaged by the 2,000 meter fall.
After the presentations, Ambassador Shulgin drove home the strategic threat. Russia is constantly accused of spreading “fake news” and “waging informational warfare”; now you see who is doing just that. The White Helmet terrorists who feed off U.K. and U.S. taxpayers have been caught in the act. But this fraud has far-reaching consequences! Probably not since the 1962 Cuba Missile Crisis has the world been so close to the threat of a Russia-U.S. conflict, Shulgin said. Now that threat seems to not be as acute, but the threat of military action is still around. God forbid this should lead to any kind of nuclear conflict!
The Russian representative charged that this Douma provocation brings to mind the 1939 Gleiwitz incident staged by Nazi SS units to make it look as though Poland had attacked Germany, thereby giving Germany the pretext to unleash World War II.
He movingly appealed to reason: Turn away from this path which is still rushing towards conflict! We cannot allow Cold War to become a hot war. We must work together on mutual interests, with mutual respect. Syria must see peace, so that many years from now, Hassan will grow up to be a doctor, a teacher, perhaps even a diplomat who will represent his country. We hope common sense will prevail, he concluded.
Meanwhile, the West – unhappy with this unexpected diversion to its narrative – has called the Russian press conference a “stunt” – with Britain and France both denouncing it as an “obscene masquerade.” The briefing was boycotted by the British, U.S., French and allied European representatives to the OPCW, who denounced it as a “stunt.” The press questions were hostile, even vile, but the briefing was broadcast live with English translation on Sputnik and RT, and is available to the world.
“This obscene masquerade does not come as a surprise from the Syrian government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years,” said France’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Philippe Lalliot.
“The OPCW is not a theatre,” Britain’s envoy to the agency, Peter Wilson, said in a statement. “Russia’s decision to misuse it is yet another Russian attempt to undermine the OPCW’s work, and in particular the work of its fact-finding mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria.”
In other words, the West is happy to bomb a sovereign nation based on nothing more than non-public “evidence” suspected to have been staged and provided by the White Helmets, but when actual residents of Douma show up to tell their side of it, they are condemned as an “obscene masquerade” and denied an opportunity to submit their testimony on the record. Sounds about right for the military industrial complex which if nothing else scored a few extra billion in procurement contracts thanks to the latest farcical attack on Syria.
An internal OPCW email indicates that the chemical weapons watchdog’s leadership doctored a report on the 2018 Douma incident to bring it in line with West-favored claim that it was an attack by the Syrian government.
The email sent by the inspector, whose name was redacted, outlines several instances, in which facts discovered by the team had been distorted or suppressed in a draft OPCW report, resulting in “an unintended bias” of the resulting text.
One objection related to saying that the team discovered sufficient evidence that chlorine gas was likely released from two cylinders found at two locations in Douma. The actual evidence pointed to the presence of one or several chlorine-containing chemicals. It might have been the gas, but it could as well be something other like chlorine-based bleach.
Another complaint was about overstating the levels of chlorinated organic derivatives found in the environment. “They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities,” the email states.
The compounds in question are a tell-tale sign of reactive chlorine that can be found long after the toxic chemical itself has dissipated, which was relevant in this case because the fact-finding mission reached Douma weeks after the incident.
The changes made in the report also point to the cylinders as the likely source of the chlorine gas. The inspectors who wrote the original report “purposely emphasized” that though it may be the case that they found insufficient evidence to affirm the theory. “It is possible the error was simply a typo. This is a major deviation from the original report,” the inspector wrote.
One of the major omissions deals with inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms as reported by witnesses or shown in footage of the purported attack and those that people affected by chlorine gas are supposed to have. Dropping that section “has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified,” the email said.
Another objection refers to parts of the original report describing the placement of the cylinders and the damage found on them and in the area, which were “are essentially absent from the redacted report.” The prevailing narrative was that the cylinders were dropped from the air by government forces. An engineering assessment penned by OPCW inspector Ian Henderson, which was leaked earlier in May, said the evidence could not support this scenario and had been suppressed by the OPCW.
The email is consistent with what an OPCW whistleblower earlier told an expert panel by the Courage Foundation last month. It also gives credence to a scolding story in CounterPunch, which said Robert Fairweather, the chief of cabinet of then-Inspector General Ahmet Uzumcu, of being the driving force behind the alterations.
CounterPunch apparently cites the same internal email as well as claims by a whistleblower, who said Fairweather allowed three US officials to have an impact on the drafting process. The Americans pressured the OPCW into blaming the Syrian government. The organization leadership then decided it needed to include a ‘smoking gun’ in the final report the whistleblower said.
Fairweather is the recipient of the email, though interestingly his name was redacted by the Mail on Sunday for unclear reasons. The British newspaper, however, provided some additional details into how the preparation of the report happened. It said four increasingly censored versions of the document had been produced as OPCW management fought off dissenting voices among the scientists. The final version was released in March this year. (source)